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The annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) is meant to update South Africans on
the government’s progress and plans. However, critics believe the event has become
more about flashy theatrics than substance.
“SONA is just a chance for politicians to grandstand instead of having earnest
discussions about helping citizens,” said political scientist Lwazi Mzobe. “The real work
happens outside the spectacle.”
With tickets in high demand, SONA has evolved into a social event akin to a concert or
sports match. Millions are spent on logistics and security to accommodate VIPs more
focused on being seen than enacting real change.
“The extravagant dinners and posturing distract from the most pressing issues facing
South Africans,” noted analyst Aviwe Mtsweni. “Poverty and inequality persist while the
government wastes money on self-congratulatory ceremonies.”
Even the president’s speech tends to contain more lofty ambitions than concrete plans,
“Grand visions without details or accountability allow politicians to pretend progress
without doing the hard work,” Mzobe said.
With its theatrical trappings, SONA provides good PR for the government. But beyond
the pageantry, South Africans still await urgent action on unemployment, crime, and
As Mtsweni concluded, “We need our leaders to focus less on spectacle and more on
delivering real change.”